All Marietta City Schools students will have the option of returning to their classrooms by Nov. 9, district Superintendent Grant Rivera announced in a series of emails to parents Tuesday.

Students at Marietta Middle School and Marietta Sixth Grade Academy will have the option of returning to their classrooms Oct. 26, Rivera said. Students at Marietta High School will have the option of returning Nov. 9.

Students whose parents opt for in-person learning will attend district classrooms Monday through Thursday. Fridays will remain virtual.

Continued decline in the spread of coronavirus in Cobb County as well as the successful return of the district’s youngest students two weeks ago “gives us greater confidence and safety as our middle and high school students change classes each day,” Rivera wrote.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten students, as well as those in first and second grades, began in-person learning Sept. 8 as part of Phase 1 of the district’s multi-step approach to reopening its schools.

The remainder of the district’s elementary school students will be able to return beginning Oct. 5.

Rivera has repeatedly said bringing back middle and high schools students would be more difficult, however, due to the fact that they change classes throughout the school day. Three factors have made it possible, Rivera said Tuesday.

First is the decline in the coronavirus’ spread.

The district’s Board of Education approved the phased reopening plan Aug. 11.

At that time, community transmission in Cobb County was at a rate of 433 per 100,000 people, Rivera said. As of Tuesday, that figure has fallen to 150 per 100,000 people.

Second is the successful return of the district’s youngest students two weeks ago.

“From temperature checks to additional custodial disinfecting to required face coverings, our safety protocols have been successfully implemented and we are confident in our ability to expand such measures,” Rivera wrote.

Third is the limited impact of Labor Day.

The district waited to announce the return of middle and high school students until two weeks after Labor Day, Rivera said. The Memorial and Labor Day holidays were followed by a surge in community spread, and a similar surge would have made reopening risky, according to Rivera.

“Fortunately, no such increase has been observed,” he wrote.

Students who return to district classrooms in the coming weeks will find a suite of safety measures in place, including a mask mandate; temperature checks before boarding a bus or entering a school building; hand sanitizer throughout school buildings and on school buses; “desk shields” in classrooms; water fountains that have been turned off; “Established building walking patterns and limited, highly-structured transitions to maintain distance”; and more.

Town halls have been arranged for parents who still have questions about the reopening process.

♦ Parents of Marietta Sixth Grade Academy students can tune into town halls on Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 4 p.m.

♦ Parents of Marietta Middle School students can tune in Oct. 6 at 4:30 p.m. and Oct 8 at 8 p.m.

♦ Parents of Marietta High students can tune in Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

More information, including class schedules, can be found on the district’s website.

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